Blue Hole Spring
Summary of Features
- Scale - 1st magnitude
- Scenery - outstanding
- How Pristine? - dock and fence around the parts of the spring
- Swimming - very good, outstanding snorkeling
- Protection - excellent
- Crowds - heavy on warm weekends
- Access - very good; 1/3 mile walk
- Facilities - fine nearby
- Safety - very good
- Scuba - only with special permission
- Cost - Fees vary by use - see Use/Access below
Directions (address: 12087 SW U.S. Highway 27 Fort White, FL 32038 (386) 497-4690). From Branford, drive SE on U.S. 27 for about 10 miles. Turn north (left) at park sign onto State Road 137. Take first paved road on the right (State Road 238) to the park entrance on the right. The spring is at the end of a 1/3 mile boardwalk and path that begins just a few feet from the head of the main parking area. From the river, the spring's fenced-off run is about 1,500 feet below Ichetucknee Spring.
The spring forms a lush pool in an area of deep forest and floodplain. The spring pool is about 75 by 120 feet wide. Water flows powerfully from a cylindrical limestone shaft near the center of the pool. The shaft is about 12 feet in diameter and 6 feet below the surface. It extends down 15 feet before opening into an underwater chamber with a depth of around 35 feet. There is a cavern system associated with the spring. Water in the spring is clear and can be an intense blue. The rest of the pool area is covered in eel grass and about 6 feet deep. Cypress trees encircle the spring, which is also fed by the run of Cedar Head Spring, which flows into the Blue Hole Spring from the north.
- This spring is one of a series of springs that form the Ichetucknee River. Altogether, the springs discharge an average of over 230 million gallons of water per day.
- Note: This site was closed in 2003 to allow for native eel grass in the spring pool to recover. It had been badly damaged by swimmers and divers.
- Park fees are as follows: $6 per vehicle (up to 8 people per vehicle, and no river use/tubing/canoeing); $4 for single car occupant; $4 for 1 – 2 persons on a motorcycle; $2 for pedestrians, bicyclists, and people with annual entrance permits; The cost for tram service is $5.00 plus tax per person. The cost for shuttle service is $7.00 plus tax per person which also includes tram service. Tram and shuttle tickets and wrist bands are purchased at the concession facility adjacent to the parking lot at the South Entrance of the park.
- There is a wooden platform for swimmers, snorkelers, and divers on the NW side of the spring.
- A fence at the downriver end of the spring prevents access into the spring by canoers or tubers.
- Because of the general depth of the pool and the spring's strong flow, Blue Hole is not a good swimming spot for young children.
- There is a nature trail along part of the spring run just below Ichetucknee Spring at the canoe/tube put-in on the west side.
- Tubing at the park can be done from three locations: North end (3 hours). Mid-point ( 1.5 hours), and Dampier's Landing (1 hour). The peak tubing season is from Memorial Day to Labor Day. A shuttle service ferries tubers from the parking area to the river and back from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Tubes must be obtained outside the park. Tubing is in the river and not in the springs.
- The park includes bathrooms and picnic facilities, and a concession stand at the south entrance.
- A citizen support organization, the Friends of Ichetucknee Springs, Inc., has been established to support Ichetucnkee Springs and its watershed. For more information, see www.floridastateparks.org/content/friends-ichetucknee-springs-state-park.
- Also known as Jug Spring and Blue Spring
- Under the right lighting conditions, sunlight shafts all the way to the bottom of the spring, creating striking and attractive visual effects.
- Tests conducted in the 1990s at Blue Hole, nearby sinkholes, and other springs on the Ichetucknee have established that the springs are interconnected and that the levels of sulfates in the water are increasing.
Blue Hole is one of the more spectacular springs in Florida. Its pristine setting, powerful flow, clear water, and skin-diving challenge (it is an accomplishment to fight the strong flow all the way to the bottom) place it in the top tier of Florida springs.
- Ichetucknee Spring
- Cedar Head Spring
- Mission/Roaring/Fig/Singing Springs
- Devil's Eye Springs
- Grassy Hole Spring
- Mill Pond Spring
- Coffee Spring
Other Nearby Natural Features
- Ichetucknee Springs State Park
- O'Leno State Park
- San Felasco Hammock State Preserve
- Devil's Millhopper State Geologic Site
- River Rise State Preserve